Lighting Up NYC, from Theaters to Business

Herrick Goldman, 48, is a lighting designer in New York City who resides in Brooklyn

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You were originally born in NYC, but grew up in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. What made you move back here?

My dad grew up here and went to NYU. My mom went to Columbia. I always knew about New York; my grandmother was down here. I ended up going to CUNY Purchase for theater tech. If you are doing theater design you need to move to New York.

Lighting design is an interesting niche, what made you pursue this field?

Theater. My dad was an English teacher, but he was also a performer and encouraged me to become an actor. I thought I would be an actor, but I ended up doing tech. The real reason I do it, it’s the same reason I got into theater, is I like making people happy. You can change people’s experiences of life with theater.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

There’s no typical day, but for a theater show, my first job is to read the script and understand what the story is trying to say. I’ll meet with the director, choreographer, and stage manager to talk about the show. I determine where the lights go and what lights are needed. I get there five days before technical rehearsals start to make sure everything is working. During performances, the stage manager has ques in the script for the lighting, so often I am not there. My day depends on the project and where we are in its production.

You also do corporate lighting, what does that entail?

Employees are not going to retain anything at a corporate event unless you make it fun. They’ll have clowns or acrobats come out, so we light massive shows for corporate meetings. People are also paying more attention to lighting because it’s more accessible. Lighting used to be just in theaters because it took a lot of electricity and created a lot of heat. Now people use lighting in restaurants, homes, and through technology.

From where do you draw inspiration for your lighting designs?

Everything. I have a large art history knowledge that I use. We can base a scene on a specific painting and how they use light. Having an art history background is massively helpful. It starts there, but then I walk down the street and see the color of a sunset or shadows in the park. I draw inspiration from absolutely anything.

Often people walk out of a show commenting on the choreography or the acting, do you ever feel lighting is undervalued?

No, if you’re doing your job right, you should not be noticed. My primary goal is to make sure the audience can see the face of the person saying the words. If nobody notices the lighting on a drama, then you’ve done it well.

How do you spend your free time? What’s your favorite spot in NYC?

I go to the gym, I travel, my wife and I will have people over for dinner. There’s an Italian restaurant on 42nd street called Becco, we go there a lot and are friends with the staff there. The beauty of the theater community in New York is everybody gets out of work at 10 o’clock at night and goes to bars, so that’s our social life.

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To view Goldman’s work, see his website here

All photos courtesy of Herrick Goldman

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